Volume 38 | May 2020
Mayor Pro Tem
Dear Indio Neighbors,

Glad to see April over? I certainly am! Many of our citizens have suffered terribly — from health issues, to unemployment and loss of business investments. We are only now finally starting to see so-called non-essential local businesses open gradually and cautiously. Turns out that most of them bring joy and richness to our community in very essential ways! Some of these local businesses are on the ropes, so we need to find ways to help them however we can.

As a City Manager, this last month has been one of worry. I’m healthy and gratefully our City workforce has so far stayed pretty healthy. But this has been a tough month of constant worrying about the frontline heroes of all kinds — medical workers, food distributors, public safety personnel, fields services workers of all kinds. And teachers, pastors, lab workers, fast food clerks, sales staff — all those people wearing masks to give us services. Heroes all.

And we worry about those who are out of work and out of money. And those who cannot pay rent AND those landlords who are housing those tenants without an income stream of their own. We worry about our elderly and those who are alone. And we worry terribly about our small businesses and their capacity to survive. At times, the worrying seems almost unbearable — but then you see or hear stories of unexpected human kindness and creativity. Yes, people find a way to dig deep and reassure us that the good in us will eventually pull us through. Thank you to those who can see the good in our future and who bring out the best in us. We WILL get through this. Thanks to all the heroes and those who inspire us every day. See you later April! It is May and we are looking for a better day!

So speaking of inspiration, I want to acknowledge the women in our lives. The moms, wives, girlfriends, daughters, and caregivers in our lives. It is a generalization to be sure, but speaking without permission for my male brethren, we owe a special debt to the women in our lives after the last six weeks or so. There are men who cook, but I would starve if it were up to me. And I know there are dads among the home schooling parents but somehow that burden has mostly fallen on moms. The women in our lives hold us together emotionally and spiritually. When we all needed masks, who sewed them? When things got depressing, who filled the internet with all those funny or endearing social media posts?  Mostly, it has been the women in our lives. (I am not even going to talk about who cleans and does the laundry.)

Given that Mother's Day is coming up, I want to say thank you to all the kind, selfless, creative, hard working, home-nurturing women in our lives. The best of God’s creations if you ask me!

Stay tuned for a kind thought about dads next month. We have a month to earn it! Meanwhile, as is the mantra, please stay safe. We are going to start having a chance to shop locally again. Please do, but do it safely! The danger is not gone yet. Stay home when you can. There may be more of us locals staying in town this hot summer. A good chance for socially distanced neighborliness! Oh....and congratulate a high school graduate when you can.

All the best,
Mark Scott
City Manager
Celebrating Indio's 90th Birthday

On Saturday, May 16th, 2020, the City of Indio celebrates 90 years as an incorporated city in Riverside County. Although we will not be celebrating with fireworks or a big party this year on the actual date, we are still looking forward to recognizing our place in history when the time is right. In the meantime, check out our anniversary logo, meant to be a throwback to the thirties, and watch for some signs around Indio showing how proud we are of our history, our residents and our role as the oldest and largest city in the Coachella Valley.  
Local Restaurant Owner Keeps Up Tradition of Giving

Local Restaurant owner Mario Del Guidice has been serving the Coachella Valley delicious food since he moved his family here in 1972 and opened his first Mario’s location. The tradition has now spanned three generations of restaurateurs, and expanded across the entire Coachella Valley, including a location on Highway 111 in Indio. But the family has become known for another tradition as well, generously serving their community.

Mario does not consider himself a hero, he prefers to think of himself as a community minded person. In his own words, “God has blessed me and my family with the ability to give back to this community that has supported my seven Mario’s Family Italian Restaurants throughout the valley for many years.”

The current COVID-19 crises has created a new need, and Mario has responded. He started what he refers to as his “Mario’s Community Monday” where he supplies a minimum of 1,000 meals a week to those in need. The meals help nourish first responders and medical front line workers, physicians and nurses at the various hospitals, local clinic, as well as the National Guard operating at the Food Bank and the Federal Medical Center at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. So far, he has delivered over 5,040 meals and is committed to do so as long as he can until this terrible pandemic is under control.

“I am grateful we could do this and I hope many more join in and do what they can to help beat this nasty virus,” says Mario. 
Stolen Equipment Recovered by Indio Public Works Employee

The eyes, ears, and heart of our City continue to work together even during this time of social distancing. Sometime between April 19 and April 22, 2020 someone cut through the padlocks to the storage sheds at Davis Field, and took snacks used to raise money for the Indio Youth Sports Association, baseball and softball equipment, and most financially devastating, a three- wheeled vehicle used to rake the ball fields. The total loss came to more than $22,000. Within hours of the Indio Police Department sharing the news on social media, Public Works employee Guillermo "Memo" de la Torre noticed an unusual post about equipment for sale on Facebook. He zoomed in on the photo and recognized the word "Indio" hidden underneath some writing. Because of Memo's sharp eye and dedication to helping families in the city where he works, he contacted IPD and our terrific police officers were able to track down both the thief and the vehicle. Now, when the parks reopen for play, take a moment to thank all the people behind the scenes who helped it all come together. 
Indio Update on COVID-19
 Every day the landscape around us changes when it comes to the impacts of COVID-19. On a local level, the effects are felt in big and small ways. Whether or not our favorite restaurants are open, if our bus routes are running, if our employer will offer enough hours to pay the bills this week, if we need to wear a mask while walking our dogs, or if our daycares can watch our children. On  Indio.org/coronavirus  we have amassed a wealth of information, including links to commonly used resources, event postponements and cancellations, a schedule of park closings and reopenings, a local restaurant guide with current hours and phone numbers, business resources, and short-term rental guidelines. Please visit our website, and simply use the search bar at the top right if you don't find what you need right away. The website is updated multiple times a day with the latest information, and as the guidelines from the County and State impact how we go about our lives here in Indio.
Desert Sands Grab-And-Go Meals for Students

Desert Sands Unified School District has some important news to share regarding their Grab-And-Go meal pick up services. Due to the warming temperatures, starting Monday, May 4, 2020, student meal pick-up time will be from 8 - 10 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday. All students 18 years old and younger qualify for these Grab-And-Go meals. 

Meal pick-up locations include:
  • Eisenhower Community Education Center
  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Indio High School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • Johnson Elementary School
  • La Quinta High School
  • Paige Middle School
  • Palm Desert Charter Middle School
  • Shadow Hills High School
  • Van Buren Elementary School

For more information, visit www.dsusd.us/grab-and-go.
Desert Sands 2020-21 School Year Open Enrollment

Starting Monday, May 4, 2020, Desert Sands Unified School District is enrolling incoming students for the upcoming school year.

An incoming student is a student enrolling in a DSUSD school for the first time. This includes:

Students starting Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten (Kindergarten if the child turns 5 years old on or before September 2020, or Transitional Kindergarten if they turn 5 between September 2 and December 2, 2020).
  • Students who have moved into district boundaries
  • Students who currently live within the boundaries, but previously attended a private or other non-DSUSD school
  • Students who live outside of district boundaries, but are planning to attend a DSUSD school in the 2020/21 school year on an approved transfer (does not include students currently attending a DSUSD school on an approved transfer).

To enroll an incoming student, parents/guardians must complete a paper registration packet. Incoming student registration packets may be picked-up and returned to the school sites listed below on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 - 10 a.m. Families may pick-up and return completed packets to any of the sites listed below, regardless of where the student will be enrolling in school.

  • Franklin Elementary
  • Indio High
  • Jackson Elementary
  • Paige Middle
  • Palm Desert Charter Middle
  • Van Buren Elementary
Indio's 2020 High School Graduates Honored

Instead of tossing their caps into the air this June, surrounded by friends and educators who've shepherded them through high school, more than a thousand students at Indio's three high schools will quietly acknowledge one of the most significant milestones of their lives, in a virtual ceremony from home. As a token of appreciation to these students and their expansive support system of counselors, friends, teachers, principals, co-workers, janitors, bus drivers, siblings, and so many others, the City of Indio is acknowledging them in whatever way we can. That includes featuring the class of 2020 from Amistad, Indio and Shadow Hills High Schools on the I-10 Auto Mall Jumbotron, and on a full-size billboard on Indio Boulevard and Burr Street. We have also listed their  names here  for posterity. The Class of 2020 may not get those special graduation moments right now, but we want them to know, they are special. 
Local Teacher Producing Protective Masks Using Innovative Technology

It’s easy to feel helpless during a global pandemic, but everybody has something to offer. Tom Buck is the IMPACT Digital Media Pathway at Indio High School. With classes moved online, Tom found himself at home looking for ways to help.

As a 3D printing hobbyist for several years, who saw YouTube videos about people from around the world using 3D printers to create face shields for medical workers on the front line, Tom put his own printers to work.

“I’ve got three printers and I’m printing two designs,” Tom explains. “One is relatively quick and simple, but the other is a bit more complicated, and they serve different purposes.”

According to Tom, the shields aren’t the same as masks, like the N95s which have become a scarce commodity, but they do offer protection. “They can protect a mask being worn underneath the shield, extending it’s usable lifespan.”

Originally becoming interested in 3D printing as a hobby and eventually using it with his students to create parts for stop motion animated projects, Tom is excited to see the technology take the spotlight in a time of need.

Tom Buck was selected as 2020 Riverside County Teacher of the Year, and when he is not building his own students’ digital media skills, he shares his knowledge with the global community via his YouTube channel, The Enthusiasm Projec t.
Earth Day "Indio in Bloom" Photo Contest

In March, spring rain brought out the bloom in Indio this year, and as part of our Earth Day celebration, the City of Indio threw out a challenge to get outdoors safely and document the beauty around us. Thanks to all those who participated in our first ever Instagram photo contest, submitting photos of wild lantana, palo verde and desert dandelions soaking up the sun. We even got a peek inside some people's backyards, as they snapped pictures of roses and esperanza (yellow bells). In the end, we want to congratulate Susie Hernandez of Indio for her beautiful photo of these bright yellow daisies on the newly completed East Indio Hills Trail. She will also receive a Sustainable Indio water bottle for her photo. Follow @cityofIndio on Instagram for daily stories and updates on the vibrant people and places who live and work here.
Transformative Climate Change Grant

This week, the City of Indio kicked off a planning effort to identify and prioritize investments that the City hopes will spur future economic and environmental transformation in three areas of town. These neighborhoods have been identified as being eligible for California Department of Conservation grant funding from the Transformative Climate Communities Planning Grant Program. The study areas include portions of Downtown Indio and the Jewel Community, located east of Jackson Street and north of Avenue 45. The planning effort will create the development of strategies that are intended to maximize neighborhood-level environmental, public health, workforce, and economic benefits. These strategies will help the City be competitive for future state and regional funded projects in the three areas. The City of Indio and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) are partnering on this project, that will include a robust engagement process focused on identifying the priorities of residents in these areas and linking them to identified affordable housing, active transportation, green infrastructure and park strategies and projects that would be competitive for future climate investment opportunities. To subscribe to updates on the project, email  contact@indiotccplan.com.
Indio Offers Virtual Building Inspections

In April, the City of Indio's Planning Services Department launched its new virtual planning inspection services, the latest in a series of moves to keep essential services running in Indio.  Indio’s Building and Safety Services began offering real-time virtual building inspections in early April for certain types of required inspections. And in March, the city began offering online building and planning submittals, as well as online payment availability.

Although mandatory social distancing and health and safety concerns because of COVID-19 have necessitated the move to virtual or online services, they will be helpful even when mandatory social distancing is lifted, adding convenience and simplicity to the planning and building process. Planning Services staff has shared the availability of this new service opportunity with developers and builders. 

The comprehensive  virtual building inspection service  will be available for eligible residential inspections, and in some cases, commercial inspections. 
“Initially, for everyone's health and safety, we were not entering lived-in homes. Now with the virtual inspections, this may be accomplished by way of video camera,” said Gil Estrada, Chief Building Official.
The Building Inspector Supervisor will determine which residential or commercial inspections qualify and assign the virtual inspection to a building inspector. 
IID’s Energy Assistance Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Imperial Irrigation District (IID) announced it will not disconnect electricity to any customers for non-payment until further notice, although customers are still responsible for unpaid balances for IID services provided.

Any customer who is struggling to pay their IID electric bill due to financial hardships stemming from the coronavirus is asked to call IID at 1-800-303-7756 to make payment arrangements.

In addition, the Residential Energy Assistance Program, or REAP, provides low-income families a 20 percent discount on their bill. For qualifying seniors 62 years or older, qualify for a 30 percent discount.
The Emergency Energy Assistance program is for families who are in the REAP and are on the verge of being disconnected. This program provides a one-time quarterly payment to help defray their energy bill and avoid being disconnected. It provides up to $125 in assistance for each quarter during the summer months and $75 during the cooler weather quarters.  

MEEUAP is an assistance program that reduces the electrical rate for a defined quantity of electricity used to operate medical equipment by a household that has a full-time resident who requires specific medically necessary electric equipment to sustain life or prevent deterioration of a person's medical condition.

More information on these programs can be found on IID's website
IID also has the Residential Rebate Rewards Program which offers residential rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. Customer's can find more information here . IID also offers up to $500 for electrical vehicle chargers. You can get this information here . For businesses, IID also offers rebates here
Monroe Interchange Project Soon Ready for Community Review

Project engineers are just days away from setting a date for a public meeting on the I-10/Monroe Street interchange project. Due to the current environment involving COVID-19, the public meeting will be held 100 percent virtually. All efforts will be made to outreach to community members who would like to participate in the public review portion of this long-awaited project. Watch for more information in the next few weeks.

Some improvements include reconstructing and widening the I-10/Monroe Street bridge overcrossing and the Coachella Valley Stormwater Channel bridge; reconstructing and widening the existing on- and off-ramps; adding an eastbound auxiliary lane between the Monroe Street and Jackson Street interchanges; adding acceleration and deceleration lanes at the westbound Monroe Street on- and off-ramps and a deceleration lane at the eastbound Monroe Street off-ramp.

The current estimated project cost is $85 million, and final design is expected to begin in late 2020.
Remember to Fill Out Your 2020 Census

As of April 27, 2020 the self-response Census Survey in the Coachella Valley shows Indio residents toward the bottom in response rates. Nearly $700 billion in federal funds for schools, hospitals and other public works are based on Census data, so please help increase our numbers by responding. 
  • Cathedral City 48.9%
  • Desert Hot Springs 46.6%
  • Palm Desert 46.2%
  • Rancho Mirage 45.4%
  • Palm Springs 44.8%
  • La Quinta 43.5%
  • Indio 41.4%
  • Coachella 40.8%
  • Indian Wells 38.9%
Complete your survey now at  2020census.gov.  It only takes a few minutes.
Free Coronavirus Testing Expanded To Residents Without Symptoms

Riverside County residents who do not have symptoms but want to be tested for Coronavirus will now be able to after health officials modified the guidelines for testing. The Coachella Valley's testing site is located at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays. 

Those who want to be tested must call 800-945-6171 and specify which location is preferable. 

For more information, read the Riverside University Health System press release .
Amistad High School and the Eisenhower Community Education Center offering Career Pathways

Amistad High School is an alternative education program that provides students with a non-traditional path to a high school diploma and beyond. Amistad features an Automotive Technology career pathway that is taught by Mr. Greg Kraus, who is also an adjunct professor at College of the Desert. Automotive Technology is a two year CTE program that provides students with certification to work in the automotive industry upon completion. Students from all Desert Sands Unified high schools interested in this career can attend Amistad for part of their school day at the $2.5 million facility, fondly known as the Eagle Garage. The program includes off-campus internships at local dealerships. The students are engaged and work collaboratively as they tackle solving issues while working on donated vehicles.  
Adjacent to Amistad, at the Eisenhower Community Educational Center, students from Amistad, other high schools in DSUSD, and College of the Desert have the opportunity to enroll in another career pathway, Heating and Air Conditioning. The instructor Mr. Dan Benke, also a COD instructor, challenges his students with learning what it takes to work in the HVAC industry. ECEC is fortunate to have a close relationship with College of the Desert, enabling programs to continue to grow in the future. Call 760-775-3570 to receive more information about any of these programs.
California's Senior Meal Program Offered through Riverside County

Governor Newsom announced the launch of a “Great Plates Delivered: Home Meals for Seniors” partnership with counties, cities, and Tribes. Through the Riverside County Office on Aging, this program will serve two purposes: to help older and other adults at high risk from COVID-19 to stay home and stay healthy by delivering three nutritious meals a day, and to provide essential economic stimulus to local businesses and workers struggling to stay afloat during the COVID crisis. Riverside County is currently accepting inquiries from the public and businesses interested in participating in the "Great Plates Delivered" program. If you are a food business and have a delivery system in place, please visit the website  to fill out an interest form. If you are an individual with a high-risk condition, please review the  eligibility criteria  and complete the interest form  here.
The City of Indio is the largest and fastest growing city in the Coachella Valley with more than with more than 89,000 residents. Nearly 1.4 million people visit Indio every year to attend its world famous arts, food, and music festivals. With nationally recognized public safety services, exceptional schools, great parks and senior and teen centers, no wonder more than 2,700 new housing units are in construction or being planned throughout the city in addition to new hotels, restaurants and retailers. Indio was the first city incorporated in the Coachella Valley on May 16, 1930, and is governed by an elected City Council that employs a City Manager. The City of Indio embraces its diversity and provides outstanding municipal services to enhance the quality of life for its residents, visitors and business community.
City of Indio |100 Civic Center Drive | (760) 391-4000
information@indio.org | www.indio.org